Ballycastle and Rathlin Island (May 2021)


After many months of Covid-19 lockdown, at last there was the chance of a first weekend away in 2021. We stayed in Ballycastle, on the beautiful Northern Irish Causeway Coast, with a visit to Rathlin Island.

Ballycastle is on Northern Ireland’s North coast, with Rathlin Island about 6 miles offshore.

On the way to Ballycastle the light on the land, and the blue of the sea, were very striking, almost like a watercolour.

Ballycastle has some old and interesting buildings. And the occasional out-of-place lawnmower.

The Royal Navy were in port on the Friday evening. I think this is a training vessel.

On the Saturday we did a drive along the coast from Ballycastle to Portrush. This is the wonderful old church at Ballintoy, visible for miles around. The harbour below the church was used extensively in the filming of Game of Thrones, as the location of the Iron Islands.

The Iron Islands aka Ballintoy harbour.

First proper pint of Guinness in almost 6 months! At the Portrush Yacht club (no yacht or membership required that day, they were letting anyone in when we turned up).

Back in Ballycastle it was such a lovely evening that even the crows were having ice cream.

My boat is bigger than your boat...the Rathlin Island ferry docking in Ballycastle. The following day we took the ferry across to the island.

On the ferry across to Rathlin Island. The journey took about 40 minutes and was incredibly smooth, though I’ve heard some horror stories about very rough crossings.

Coming into the harbour on the island. Rathlin is the only inhabited offshore island in Northern Ireland, and has a permanent population of about 150 people.

The water and reflections in the harbour were crystal clear.

Little harbours are always fertile hunting grounds for  photographers.

Inside the little Catholic church on the island. The original old church used timbers from shipwrecks, but I think the current church was more recently renovated.

After a stiff climb up a hill we were rewarded with this amazing view. It felt like we were somewhere in the Mediterranean.

Daisies galore.

I always feel sad when I see war graves like this in such a beautiful place.

The Viknor sank while patrolling off the coast of Donegal in 1915, taking with it the entire crew of 291. The circumstances of the sinking are unclear- it may have been the weather, but there was also speculation that it hit a German mine.

As a strange aside, the Viknor had just apprehended a German spy, seized aboard a Norwegian vessel. The spy also went down with the ship.

Bye Bye, Rathlin. It really had been the perfect day for a visit. And another (still novel) pint of Guinness.

Back in Ballycastle- a Pagan ritual? A meeting of the KKK? No, the end of an Artisan market.

The last evening was beautiful, the water an amazing shade of blue.

A perfect evening for a stroll along the beach.

Travelling home, past Ballintoy church again, Scotland was unusually clear on the horizon. Given current uncertainties about foreign travel, this might be the limit of any further holidays this year. 

But with such beauty on our own doorstep, that shouldn’t be a major problem.

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